Photos by Shannon Laurine, courtesy of Jessica Cole
A fateful skateboarding adventure gone wrong led Jessica Cole to cannabis. After breaking her right ankle at 21, she turned to herb for its healing powers. Since, Cole situated herself in the marijuana trenches and launched the imaginative tea party series White Rabbit High Tea a little over a year ago. White Rabbit, based in LA, takes a page from the Mad Hatter’s book, encouraging guests to dawn flamboyant garb and even play a little croquet — all while munching on THC-infused baked goods and sipping tea that will bring you closer to God (or at least make you high). There’s non-medicated fare available, as well, and each party features a new chef to inspire the menu.
MERRY JANE got with Cole to talk about growing up in Oregon, the ritual of tea, and just how perfect Martha Stewart is. She also shared a recipe for infused Date Scones that are positively dreamy. And for MERRY JANE readers in the LA area, White Rabbit’s next event falls August 26 in West Hollywood — get tickets now!
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup of butter (cannabis-infused or plain)
1/2 cup Shields Date crystals
1/4 cup Shields Date sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cardamom
1 teaspoon ginger
Cut cold butter into dry ingredients with a fork or a pastry cutter. Add a cup or so of ice water into the mix, forming the dough into a ball.
Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface, and knead briefly. Roll or pat dough out into a 1/2-inch thick round. Cut into 8 wedges, or use a round cookie cutter.
Place on a prepared baking sheet. I use coconut oil to grease the pan.
Bake at 350 degrees for 14-18 min or until golden brown.
Jessica Cole, photo by Shannon Laurine
MERRY JANE: You developed your taste for tea in Ireland. Tell me about tea culture in Los Angeles and how cannabis fits into that.
Jessica Cole: Although my great-grandmother Mary Cole died in LA and my mother was born here, I'm from Southern Oregon — which is a very different world from Ireland and LA altogether. I've been in Los Angeles for six years now and regardless of how much I travel, I always find my grounding with the Oregon values I grew up with. Caring deeply for our community and the people it’s composed of, respecting our environment with conviction, and leaving every place we go better than we found it.
I've found the best parts of Oregon in LA, but with a little more glitter and glam. Oregon is very rustic and homey, filled with seasonal fruits, an abundance of wildlife, wide open spaces, mountains, rivers, and lakes. We drink mint tea that we grow ourselves out of handmade stoneware mugs fired in communal kilns, or matte out of dried gourds adopted from the rituals of Argentina. Oregon winters require cozying up by the fire and telling stories long into the night.
Oregon is a little microcosm, but it, like LA, has a flare for the dramatic. It creates its own culture but also embraces other cultures and has produced many fine artists and musicians. My birthplace of Ashland, Oregon is also home to the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, so LA's love of art and drama is not lost on me in the least.
What else have you noticed about LA that’s different from Oregon in terms of culture and tea?
In LA, I feel we have more freedom to explore and adapt worldly class and style to our daily rituals. We drink more iced tea and more herbal teas when we go out. There is more access to various cultures here so we indulge in Boba tea or partake in Japanese tea ceremonies. I've had the loveliest tea in Little Ethiopia and am reminded of how grateful I am to have access to such a variety of culture and knowledge it carries with it here. The wonderful thing about tea is that it's fairly universal — every culture I can think of makes their own type of tea, so there are endless facets of tea culture to explore.
I feel that Los Angeles is the perfect place to present White Rabbit High Tea; it's a beautiful event where true connections are made and epiphanies are had. I'm honored to have the chance to bring the amazing people of Los Angeles together each month to share the wonderful benefits of cannabis. For me, cannabis and tea have always been part of the same ritual … it's time now for cannabis to be taken out of the shadows and onto the silver platter to which it belongs — or, rather, tea tray in this case.
How would you describe the vibe and clientele of a typical White Rabbit High Tea event?
I want our guests to walk into something they have never experienced before and walk away talking about it for months. For me, it's all in the details; we set the table with love and care and put a lot of emphasis on visuals. I am lucky enough to have floral artist Tanya Arguelles as my main floral designer for our events; sometimes when she is off globetrotting and learning Ikebana in Japan or tending to her own studio in Ashland, I bring in guest florists... it's wonderful to see the use of cannabis flowers arranged with classic floral art. It really feels like we finally stepped into the future.
I'm a very inclusive person and that quality is reflected in my events. Luckily for me, the type of people who are drawn to the cannabis community are some of the best people on earth. My goal is to create an amazing experience for everyone, from folks who are just learning about cannabis and seeing how they can integrate it into their lives, to seasoned stoners who have been waiting years for social events such as this to be accepted and encouraged in mainstream culture... Sometimes it's less about the cannabis and more about the High Tea itself. A lot of people have never been to a tea party and so when we can get them to our long table with 24 other guests dressed to the 9s, it's a magical thing. It's always so intriguing to see who will come to each tea event — from celebrities and tastemakers/influencers to cannabis industry professionals to moms trying cannabis for the first time.
What's the costume code like? Any especially impressive outfits attendees have worn you can tell us about?
We don't have a costume code per se, but we do encourage folks to dress in something they don't normally get to wear — a fun costume piece relegated to the back of the closet, an all-but-forgotten prom dress, a top hat, a pair of gloves. When people don't know what to wear, I tell them to either wear their Sunday best or "date night" attire. Once they arrive, we invite them to peruse our costume box to add on to their wardrobe if they feel inspired. The main point is to have fun and play; often times adults don't have the time or the inclination to "play" anymore. Allowing our guests the freedom to do so and encouraging them, starting with costuming, is a really fun way to set the tone for the rest of the event. When the space allows for it, we will often times pull out the croquet set. So between sips of tea, you can find guests playing a relaxing game of croquet where no one loses their heads!
Explain to me a little about how you started using cannabis in its edible/drinkable form.
When I was growing my own medical marijuana in Oregon 12 years ago, we would make canna-butter with our leftover trim and make the most outrageous Rice Krispie treats and other goodies. The industry and the market has changed a lot since then. Long gone are the days of the Saran-wrapped brownie; everything is becoming so professional and branded. It's wonderful to be able to pick up well-made cannabis products that are creative and tasty but also match our lifestyle.
What type of chefs do you invite to the tea parties?
We collaborate with different chefs for each tea. Chef Russell Plantoff really got us going in the beginning at the Petit Ermitage with his imaginative dishes, like [infused] deviled quail eggs and tiny lobster rolls. Chef Holden Jagger has graced us with his skills and wowed our tastebuds with his non-activated cannabis infused treats like smoked salmon, goat cheese with cured male cannabis tea sandwiches, apricot and hemp seed galette, and terpene honey gougere. It's a really great way to taste the flavor of cannabis plant, which is being used more like a vegetable, without the worry of getting too high.
It's important for me that we serve non-medicated food to our guests so that they can enjoy themselves fully, too. That said, joints and vaporizers are always being passed down the table and there are enough medicated snacks from our featured sponsors each month that everyone can get perfectly toasted by the time the tea party is over.
How did you develop the dish you're sharing with us today? Any pairing suggestions?
When I was in high school and all the other girls had Seventeen Magazine and stacks of Delia's catalogs, I had a monthly subscription to Martha Stewart magazine. Martha has always been an inspiration to me in the kitchen and at the craft table. This scone recipe is an adaptation of [her] basic scone recipe, and I would like to think that Martha would enjoy it if she ever comes to tea — which she has a standing invitation to. Today, more than ever, [Martha] is a hero; she shows that women can be powerful, make mistakes, own up to them, move past them, and keep succeeding all while having awesome besties like Snoop Dogg.
My other inspiration for these scones is my grandma, Ginny. We used to drive down to Palm Springs each winter to spend Christmas with her in the desert. At 91, she is still an incredible cook and baker and I've learned a lot of my kitchen skills from her. She would take us on day trips to vintage clothing stores, the Oasis or the Tram, and the Shields Date [Gardens]. On one of my more recent trips to the date farm, I discovered their date "crystals" and date sugar. I have been replacing white sugar in a lot of my recipes with date sugar, which is a lot more healthy and tastes great.
I would recommend pairing these scones with cannabutter if you choose to make them with un-infused butter, so everyone can choose the right dosage amount for themselves. To top them off, try either the Blackberry Kush Jam from Toasted Jam Co. or CBD Jelly from Jelly Shaman.
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